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Q15 blamed for Le Havre safety woes

It's not that Whitestone is crime-ridden. The danger lies in the speeding Q15 buses that she said routinely miss the stop sign at the corner of Totten Street and 9th Avenue.And she is not the only one distressed by this.Residents of Le Havre, French for "the haven," say the Q15 bus is endangering children and pedestrians when it turns onto Totten Street, a narrow road that runs alongside a basketball court, pool and play area.Initially, residents were under the impression that the bus was using Totten Street because of construction at the shopping center among 154th Street, Powells Cove Boulevard and 9th Avenue.But now residents are hearing that the use of Totten Street may be permanent."They had made this temporary while construction was being done on some of the roads in the area," said Eric, a Le Havre resident who requested his last name not be used. "The construction had been completed recently and I asked one of the city bus drivers and he said, ÔYeah, this is permanent now.'"Eric and his wife, Susan, have two children who use the play area, pool and basketball courts at Le Havre.Eric has been in contact with City Councilman Tony Avella's (D-Bayside) office but has not been able to effectively track down information on the changes to the bus routes."This was absolutely supposed to be temporary. No one suggested it was permanent," Eric said. "That is an area where children congregate, particularly during the summer."Benitez said she has seen the bus skip the 9th Avenue and Totten Street intersection stop sign on several occasions and she even heard from her 16-year-old that the bus was not driving safely in that area."The buses go fast, really fast," Benitez said. "I'm very concerned about the kids more than anything."Building resident Michele Buster is circulating a petition to send to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to get the route changed. Le Havre is a 32-unit co-op. She has been in contact with the building's administrative offices in order to coordinate their efforts."It's got us all really worried," Buster said. "It's an accident waiting to happen. It's really, really frightening."The MTA presented potential changes to the Q15 bus route at a Community Board 7 meeting in March. Proposed changes included rerouting the bus in Whitestone so that it would continue on 150th Street to the Cross Island Parkway service road, avoiding 15th Drive and requiring the relocation of one stop by 125 feet.The Beechhurst Q15 route used to travel along 10th Avenue, 160th Street and 12th Avenue, which the MTA said were narrow roads with excessive turns for the buses.The MTA proposed that the Q15 instead operate on Powells Cove Boulevard from 154th Street to the existing stop at 166th Street. This rerouting was designed to alleviate bus traffic from more residential streets and allow for easier access to the shopping center on 154th Street between 9th Avenue and Powells Cove Boulevard.Representatives from the MTA did not return calls for comment about the use of Totten Street by the Q15 bus drivers.Lia Chaparro, the assistant property manager at Le Havre, said she looked at the map and realized Totten Street was not part of the bus route."The buses are not even coming down the route they're supposed to be coming," she said. "The other issue is this street that we have here is very narrow. We have parking on either side. There's no means of egress for any of the cars."The cars have nothing to do but reverse back up the street," she said. "Sometimes a few hundred feet (and) there's children."

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